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LONDON 1886 








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It is not proposed on the present occasion to enter upon any 
criticism of Shelley's great Elegy, — the poem which among the 
generality of educated readers is more highly prized than any 
other work of the Poet. But it will be useful to bring together 
the leading facts in the bibliography of Adonais, and the more 
important of the references to that poem to be gathered from 
Shelley's published letters. 

Under date June the 8th, 1821, Shelley wrote to Mr. Charles 
Oilier, from Pisa, the following letter, which is given in the 
Shelley Memorials— 1859— pp. 155, 156: — 

" DEAR Sir, — You may announce for publication a poem 
entitled Adonais. It is a lament on the death of poor Keats, 
with some interposed stabs on the assassins of his peace and 
of his fame ; and will be preceded by a criticism l on Hyperion, 
asserting the due claims which that fragment gives him to the 
rank which I have assigned him. My poem is finished, and 

1 It would seem from this passage, that he at first meant the original edition to 
include a criticism, whether printed at Pisa or in London. 


consists of about forty Spenser stanzas. 1 I shall send it you, 
either printed at Pisa, or transcribed in such a manner as it shall 
be difficult for the reviser to leave such errors as assist the 
obscurity of the Prometheus. But, in case I send it printed, 
it will be merely that mistakes may be avoided ; [so] that I shall 
only have a few copies struck off in the cheapest manner. 

" If you have interest enough in the subject, I could wish that 
you inquired of some of the friends and relations of Keats 
respecting the circumstances of his death, and could transmit me 
any information you may be able to collect, and especially as to 
the degree in which, as I am assured, the brutal attack in the 
Quarterly Review excited the disease by which he perished. 2 

" I have received no answer to my last letter to you. Have 
you received my contribution 3 to your Magazine ? 4 

• Dear Sir, 

" Yours very sincerely, 
"P. B. Shelley." 

Shelley speedily decided which course to follow, and put his 
Elegy to press at Pisa, where it was ' printed with the types of 

1 As a matter of fact it consists of fifty-five stanzas ; so that its author must 
have again varied and enlarged his plan after the first draft of the poem was 

2 This passage proves very plainly how little knowledge Shelley really had of the 
facts of the case when composing Adonais. Had he, before committing his work to 
press, waited to inquire how far the accounts communicated to him * were correct in 
their details, he would doubtless have modified in a very considerable degree the 
measure of wrath he poured upon the hostile reviewers ; although, after all he had 
himself suffered at the hands of 'these wretched men,' it is unlikely he would 
have let slip altogether the opportunity thus presented of showing them the full 
extent of his antipathy and disregard. 

* [By 'a friend who had derived his information from Colonel Finch.' See a letter 
to Severn — dated ' Pisa, Nov. 29th,." 1 821.' — in Lord Houghton's Life, Letters, and 
Literary Remains, of John Keats. Moxon, : i848, vol. ii., p. 101. Given also by 
Mr. Buxton Forman in his Library edition of Shelley's Works, 1880, vol. iii., p. 8.] 

3 A Defence of Poetry, designed for ' an antidote to ' Peacock's The Four Ages of 
Poetry. For a full account of this essay, see Shelley's Works, Forman's edition, 
1880, vol. vii., p. 98. 

* Ollicr's Literary Miscellany. 


Didot.' The result was the very sightly quarto, of which the 
present is as exact a reproduction as the Society can obtain. 
Its collation is — 

Adonais / an Elegy on the death of John Keats, / 
author of Endymion, Hyperion etc. / By / Percy. 
B. Shelley / **** ] / Pisa / with the types of Didot / 
Small quarto ; pp. i — v (of which pp. iii — v. form 
the preface) ; and pp. 7 — 25 of text. 
It was issued in blue paper wrappers, with woodcut and 
ornamental border. 

The quarto was offered for sale at the price of 3s. 6d., and was 
obtainable for this by no means extravagant sum at least as late 
as 1824 (and most probably for some time afterwards), for the 
List of Mr. Shelley's Previous Works, which may be had of the 
Publis/iers of the " Posthumous Poems" ' printed at the back of 
the list of errata for that volume, includes ? Adonais, 4to, 
sewed, $s. 6d.' Now the pamphlet is one of the scarcest 
and most highly prized of the original editions of Shelley's 

The first English edition of Adonais was printed at Cambridge 
in 1829 at the instance of Lord Houghton and Arthur Hallam, 
and was edited from a copy of the original Pisa edition brought 
by the latter from Italy. 

1 Here stands a quotation from Tlato. 


The collation of the Cambridge edition is — 

Adonais. / An Elegy / on the / Death of John 
Keats, / author of Endymion, Hyperion, etc. / By 
/ Percy B. Shelley. / **** * / Cambridge : / printed 
by W. Metcalfe, / and sold by Messrs. Gee and 
Bridges, Market-Hill. / mdcccxxix. 

Octavo ; pp. i — viii (of which pp. v — viii. form the 

preface); and pp. I — 28 of text. 2 

The book was issued in paper wrappers (without either 
ornamentation or lettering), which in some copies are Blue and 

in others Green. 

The following notice is printed on a blank leaf, which counts 
as pp. 3-4 :— 

" The present Edition is an exact reprint (a few 
typographical errors only being corrected) of the first 
edition of the 'Adonais,' — dated 'Pisa, with the types 
of Didot, mdcccxxi.' " 

I have not been able to ascertain definitely what was the 
published price of this pamphlet ; no figure is printed on it, and 
no advertisement offering it for sale has come before me, but I 
have fair reason for believing that it was originally offered at 
Eighteenpence. Whether the issue was a large or small one 
there are no definite means of ascertaining, but so far as actual 
scarcity goes, fewer copies of it than of the Pisa edition certainly 
come into the market. 

1 Here stands the quotation from Plato. 

3 A facsimile of the title-page will be found at the close of this introduction. 


Not until 1876 was Shelley's wish for a London edition of his 
Elegy fulfilled. In that year Mr. H. Buxton Forman issued for 
private circulation 1 an edition of the Adonais, edited by himself 
with Notes and a brief Introduction. The title-page is a 
reproduction of the original quarto, and the collation is 
as follows : — 

Octavo ; pp. 1 — 8 (of which p. 2 contains the editor's 
Introduction, and pp. 5 — 8 Shelley's Preface) ; and 
pp. 9 — 29 of text. 

These three are the only separate editions — in English — of 
the Adonais with which I am acquainted. The Elegy was, 
however, printed in The Literary Chronicle and Weekly Review 2 
of Saturday, December the 1st, 1821, where it occupies pp. 
751 — 754. The poem (which forms the opening article of the 
number) was preceded by the following editorial note : — 

'Through the kindness of a friend, we have been favoured 
with the latest production of a gentleman of no ordinary genius, 
Mr. Bysshe Shelley. It is an elegy on the death of a youthful 
poet of considerable promise, Mr. Keats, and was printed at 
Pisa. As the copy now before us is, perhaps, the only one that 
has reached England, and the subject is one that will excite 
much interest, we shall print the whole of it.' 

I have not myself collated the text as given in The Literary 
Chronicle, but Mr. Buxton Forman informs me that the promise 

1 The number of copies printed was limited, five being upon vellum, twenty-five 
upon Whatman's hand-made paper, and fifty upon ordinary paper. Facing the title- 
page of the vellum and Whatman paper copies is placed an etching of "Shelley's 
Grave " by W. B. Scott. 

3 No. 133, quarto. Published by J. Limbird, 355, Strand. 


to 'print the whole of it' was not fulfilled, six stanzas (19 — 24) 
being omitted. It has since appeared in every edition of 
Shelley's Poetical Works, and is also included — either in whole 
or in part — in most volumes of Selections from his poetry. 

It is interesting to find that so soon as 1830 Shelley's works 
must have been receiving considerable attention from educated 
Italians ; for in that year appeared a neat and well-printed 
volume, of which the collation is as follows : — 

Adone / Nella Morte / di / Giovanni Keats / 
Autore dell' Endimione, Iperione, &c. &c. &c. / 
Elegia / di / Percy Bishe Shelley / tradotta / da / 
L. A. Damaso Pareto. / ***** / Genova / dalla tipo- 
grafia Pellas. / mdcccxxx. 

Small quarto; pp. 1—74. 

Pp. 5 — 35 are occupied by a " Disgorso / sulla vita 

e sulle poesie / di / Percy Bishe Shelley." 
The translation of the Adonais itself forms pp. 41 — 74. 

No student of Adonais can afford to pass over the collection 
of Fragments — both of the Poem and of the Preface — deciphered 
by Dr. Garnett in 1862 during the course of his fruitful search 
amongst the Shelley Manuscripts preserved at Boscombe 
Manor. They were first given in the Relics of Shelley (Moxon, 
1862; pp. 48 — 52), from which volume they are reprinted 
verbatim at the end of this Introduction. 

1 Flere stands the following quotation : — 

■ . . . . Sequiturque patrem non passibus sequis.' 



With regard to the text of the first — Pisa — edition of Adonais, 
I think we may fairly accord to it the honour of being less 
corrupt than that of the original editions of any of Shelley's 
books. Its verbal inaccuracies are few, and — comparatively 
speaking — of no importance. 1 Nor is this surprising when we 
'consider the care which, as we learn from his published letters, 
Shelley bestowed upon both its composition and its correction. 
There are, however, three important variations from the reading 
of the first edition of 1821 which are unhesitatingly accepted 
even by such jealous editors as Messrs. Rossetti and Forman, 
both of whom incorporate them in the text of their respective 
editions. They were introduced by Mrs. Shelley in her 4 
vol. edition of 1839, and as there seems no reason for doubting 
that she had authority for the changes, it is well, I think, to 
note them here. 

In stanza viii. the last line originally stood thus : — 

" (and the law) 
Of mortal change, shall fill the grave which is her maw." 

As given by Mrs. Shelley it reads : — 

11 Of change, shall o'er his sleep the mortal curtain draw." 

In stanza xvi. line eight originally ran thus : — 

"Amid the drooping comrades of their youth." 

In Mrs. Shelley's revision we find : — 

' ' Amid the faint companions of their youth. " 

1 With a single exception — that of the pronoun their being misspelt t/iier, in the 
second line of Stanza XLV, — these inaccuracies are confined to the pointing. 


Again, in the quarto the last line of stanza xxviii. is : — 

" They fawn on the proud feet that spurn them as they go." 

As printed by Mrs. Shelley it is : — 

" They fawn on the proud feet that spurn them lying low." 

In connexion with the subject of Text, there is a singular 
coincidence which I do not remember to have seen pointed out 
elsewhere, and which well deserves noting specially. 

Lines four and five of the nineteenth stanza of Adonais are 
as follows : — 

" From the great morning of the world when first . .- 
God dawned on Chaos," &c. 

If we turn to Hellas, printed in the following year (1822), we 
find the same thought reproduced in words which are almost 
identical : — 

" In the great morning of the world, 
The spirit of God with might unftirl'd 
The flag of Freedom over Chaos," &c. — 

Hellas, page 5, lines 13 — 15. 

■ » 

The sad story of the death of John Keats, and the deep and 
lasting impression which that event made upon Shelley, are too 
well known to need repeating here ; they have been amplified 
abundantly — if not to excess — in the many biographical works, 
and articles of a biographical nature contributed to periodical 
literature, relating to either poet, which have already been given 
to the world. But it may, perhaps, be well to add a word 
or two in reference to the date of production of Adonais. 

Keats died on the 23rd of February, 1821 ; and full three 
months elapsed before Shelley projected the composition of a 
poem in commemoration of his untimely end, or at all events 


before he put such project into actual execution. In a letter 
to Mr. and Mrs. Gisborne, dated ' Bagni, Tuesday Evening, 
{June $tk, 1821.)/ he wrote:— 1 

" I have been engaged these last days in composing a poem 
on the death of Keats, which will shortly be finished ; and I 
anticipate the pleasure of reading it to you, as some of the 
very few persons who will be interested in it and understand it. 
It is a highly-wrought piece of art, and perhaps better, in point 
of composition, than anything I have written." 

Again, under date 'Pisa, Saturday, {June i6tn, 1821.),' he 
wrote to John Gisborne : — 2 

" As it is, I have finished my Elegy ; and this day I send it 
to the press at Pisa. You shall have a copy the moment it is 
completed. I think it will please you. I have dipped my pen 
in consuming fire for his [Keats'] destroyers ; otherwise the style 
is clear and solemn." 

These passages seem to imply that the composition of the 
poem extended over about a fortnight ; and yet as we shall see 
by the following extract from another letter to the Gisbornes, 
dated ' Bagni, Friday night, (July i"$tk, 1821.)', it remained nearly 
a month — say twenty-seven days — in the printer's hands, unless 
indeed, Shelley failed to send it to the printer's on the 16th, 
which is scarcely probable in face of the very precise manner 
in which he wrote : — 

" A thousand thanks for your maps ; in return for which I 
send you the only copy of Adonais the printer has yet 
delivered." 3 

1 See Essays, Letters from Abroad, &c, 1840, vol. ii. p. 293. 
3 Ibid. p. 296. • Ibid. p. 298. 


This — as Mr. Forman has pointed out 1 — is a considerable 
time for the production of so slight a book ; and indicates pretty 
clearly what care Shelley must have devoted to its correction 
during its passage through the press. In fact Adonais evidently 
received from its author an amount of attention which we have 
ample reason for concluding he did not trouble himself to 
bestow upon the majority of his other books; excluding, of 
course, the labour entailed by the changing of Laon and Cythna 
into The Revolt of Islam, and the forming of portions of Queen 
Mab into The Damon of tJie World. 

I have yet to quote two short passages from Shelley's 
letters to Oilier — his London publisher — in which he states 
distinctly what place his Elegy occupied in his own opinion ; 
an opinion which, considering the amount of critical acumen 
he undoubtedly possessed, we cannot entirely pass over or 
neglect Under date ' Pisa, September 25th, 1821,' he writes— 2 

" The Adonais, in spite of its mysticism, is the least imperfect 
of my compositions, and, as the image of my regret and honour 
for poor Keats, I wish it to be so. I shall write to you, 
probably, by next post on the subject of that poem, and 
should have sent the promised criticism for the second edition, 
had I not mislaid, and in vain sought for, the volume that 
contains Hyperion'' 3 

1 See Shelley's Works, Forman's edition, 1880, vol. iii. p. 2. 

2 See the Shelley Memorials, 1859, p. 159. 

8 Lamia, Isabella, &c, 1820. Is it possible that to the accidental mislaying of 
this volume we are to ascribe the loss of a second — London — edition of Adonais ; an 
edition rendered invaluable, as it would beyond doubt have been, by the criticism with 
which Shelley purposed to preface it ? ' 


Again — under date 'Pisa, November wth, 182 1,' — he 
writes : — 

" Do not forget my other questions. I am especially curious 
to hear the fate of Adonais. I confess I should be surprised 
if that poem were born to an immortality of oblivion." 1 

Such is the history of Shelley's masterpiece, so far as the 
facts connected with its production are known to me. Received 
upon its publication with the usual howl of ignorant derision 
with which critics of a certain school were wont to indulge 
themselves upon the appearance of a new work from Shelley's 
pen, 2 it has lived to take its rightful place in the foremost 
rank of English Elegiac Verse (a position it can scarcely 
fail to hold), and to be known and loved by thousands of 
thoughtful and appreciative readers. 

It only remains still to add, as a minor bibliographical 
detail which may prove of service to some collectors, that the 
exact dimensions of uncut copies of the two early editions of 
Adonais are — 

Pisa, 1 82 1, edition : io| x j\ inches. 
Cambridge, 1829, edition : 8| X $| inches. 
Of both pamphlets the British Museum possesses copies. 

J See the Shelley Memorials, 1859, p. 160. 

2 One reviewer, endowed with an amount of dulness somewhat beyond the average, 
ventured — in The Literary Gazette, Saturday, December Wi, 1821, p. 773 — the egotistic 
and self-satisfied opinion that "The poetry of the work is contemptible — a mere collection 
of bloated words heaped on each other without order, harmony, or meaning ; the refuse 
of a schoolboy's common-place book, full of the vulgarisms of pastoral poetry, yellow 
gems and blue stars, bright Phoebus and rosy-fingered Aurora ; and of this stuff is 
Keats's wretched Elegy compiled." What writer, be his mental perception ever so 
obtuse, would venture to-day to confess to an opinion at once so inappreciative and so 
absurd ? 



To H. Buxton Forman, Esq., whose name is so well known 
in connexion with Shelley Bibliography, I have to return 
my heartiest thanks for the kind assistance he has rendered 
me in the compilation of these ''ntroductory notes. 

Thomas J. Wise. 

127, Devonshire Road, 
Hollowav, N. 



[Among Shelley's MSS. is a fair copy of the " Defence of Poetry," apparently 
damaged by sea-water, and illegible in many places. Being prepared for the printer, 
it is written on one side of the paper only; on the blank pages, but frequently 
undecipherable for the reason just indicated, are many passages intended for, but 
eventually omitted from, the preface to "Adonais." Their autobiographical value 
requires no comment.] 

. . . The expression of my indignation and sympathy. I will 
allow myself a first and last word on the subject of calumny as 
it relates to me. As an author I have dared and invited censure. 
If I understand myself, I have written neither for profit nor for 
fame. I have employed my poetical compositions and publi- 
cations simply as the instruments of that sympathy between 
myself and others which the ardent and unbounded love I 
cherished for my kind incited me to acquire. I expected all 
sorts of stupidity and insolent contempt from those . . . 

. . . These compositions (excepting the tragedy of the " Cenci," 
which was written rather to try my powers, than to unburthen 
my full heart) are insufficiently . . . commendation than perhaps 
they deserve, even from their bitterest enemies ; but they have 
not attained any corresponding popularity. As a man, I shrink 
from notice and regard ; the ebb and flow of the world vexes 
me ; I desire to be left in peace. Persecution, contumely, and 
calumny, have been heaped upon me in profuse measure ; and 
domestic conspiracy and legal oppression have violated in my 
person the most sacred rights of nature and humanity. The 
bigot will say it was the recompence of my errors ; the man 
of the world will call it the result of my imprudence ; but never 
upon one head . . . 

. . . Reviewers, with some rare exceptions, are a most stupid 
and malignant race. As a bankrupt thief turns thieftaker in 

1 Reprinted from : — 

Relics of Shelley. / Edited by / Richard Garnett. f London: / Edivatd 
Moxon <&•» Co., Dover Street. / 1862. Small octavo, pp. i—xvi. andi—nji. 


despair, so an unsuccessful author turns critic. But a young 
spirit panting for fame, doubtful of its powers, and certain only 
of its aspirations, is ill-qualified to assign its true value to the 
sneer of this world. He knows not that such stuff as this is of 
the abortive and monstrous births which time consumes as fast 
as it produces. He sees the truth and falsehood, the merits 
and demerits, of his case inextricably entangled. . . No personal 
offence should have drawn from me this public comment upon 
such stuff . . . 

The offence of this poor victim* seems to have consisted 
solely in his intimacy with Leigh Hunt, Mr. Hazlitt, and some 
other enemies of despotism and superstition. My friend Hunt 
has a very hard skull to crack, and will take a deal of killing. 
I do not know much of Mr. Hazlitt, but . . . 

... I knew personally but little of Keats ; but on the news 
of his situation I wrote to him, suggesting the propriety of 
trying the Italian climate, and inviting him to join me. Unfor- 
tunately he did not allow me . . . 

[Several cancelled passages of the "Adonais" have been met with in Shelley's note- 
books. He appears to have originally framed his conception on a larger scale than he 
eventually found practicable. The passage in which the contemporary minstrels are 
introduced as mourning for Adonais, would have been considerably extended, and the 
characteristics of each delineated at some length. It must, however, have occurred 
to him that the parenthesis would be too long, and would tend to distract the reader's 
attention from the main subject Nothing, therefore, of the original draft was allowed 
to subsist, but the four incomparable stanzas descriptive of himself ( " Mid others of less 
note," &c). A fifth was cancelled, which ran as follows : — ] 

And ever as he went he swept a lyre 
Of unaccustomed shape, and strings 

* It is hardly necessary to repeat what Mr. Milnes [Lord Houghton] has so clearly 
established, that Shelley very greatly overrated the effect which the Quarterly's 1 attack 
produced upon Keats. The error, however, was almost universal at the time. 

1 See The Quarterly Review, 1818, vol. xix., pp. 204-208. Review of * Endymion: 
A Poetic Romance, 1S18.' A barbarous piece of writing, with the authorship of 
which Gifford is usually, and I think justly, charged. — T. J. W. 


Now like the of impetuous fire, 

Which shakes the forest with its murmurings, 

Now like the rush of the aerial wings 

Of the enamoured wind among the treen, 

Whispering unimaginable things, 

And dying on the streams of dew serene, 

Which feed the unmown meads with ever-during green. 

[Several stanzas relating to Byron and Moore are too imperfect for publication. 
The following refers to the latter : — ] 

And the green Paradise which western waves 

Embosom in their ever-wailing sweep, 

Talking of freedom to their tongueless caves, 

Or to the spirits which within them keep 

A record of the wrongs which, though they sleep, 

Die not, but dream of retribution, heard 

His hymns, and echoing them from steep to steep, 


[Leigh Hunt was thus described : — ] 

And then came one of sweet and earnest looks, 

Whose soft smiles to his dark and night-like eyes 

Were as the clear and ever-living brooks 

Are to the obscure fountains whence they rise, 

Showing how pure they are : a Paradise 

Of happy truth upon his forehead low 

Lay, making wisdom lovely, in the guise 

Of earth-awakening morn upon the brow 

Of star-deserted heaven, while ocean gleams below. 

His song, though very sweet, was low and faint, 
A simple strain 


[The following lines were also written for the " Adonais " : — ] 1 

A mighty Phantasm, half concealed 
In darkness of his own exceeding light, 
Which clothed his awful presence unrevealed, 
Charioted on the night 

Of thunder-smoke, whose skirts were chrysolite. 

And like a sudden meteor, which outstrips 
The splendour-winged chariot of the sun, 

The armies of the golden stars, each one 
Pavilioned in its tent of light — all strewn 
Over the chasms of blue night 

1 "Of this final fragment" — says Mr. Buxton Forman (Shelley's Works, 1880, 
vol. iii. p. 33) — " Mr. Garnett offers no explanation ; but surely we may, without 
hesitation, connect the name of Samuel Taylor Coleridge with it. Considering the 
wholly ideal manner in which other poets are dealt with in Adonais, the expressions 
here used are not disproportionate when applied to Coleridge ; and the passage 
corresponds closely with the lines in the Letter to Maria Gisborne : 

You will see Coleridge — he who sits obscure 
In the exceeding lustre, and the pure 
Intense irradiation of a mind, 
Which with its own internal lightning blind 
Flags wearily through darkness and despair 
— A cloud-encircled meteor of the air — 
A hooded eagle among blinking owls. — " 

Letter to Maria Gisborne, lines 202 — 208. 

Certainly this identification of the "mighty Phantasm" has been questioned; but 
I fail to see to whom else the description could possibly apply, and must record my 
own opinion as upholding that of Mr. Forman. — T. J. W. 



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It is my intention to subjoin to the London edition of this 
poem, a criticism upon the claims of its lamented object 
to be classed among the writers of the highest genius 
who have adorned our age. My known repugnance to the 
narrow principles of taste on which several of his earlier 
compositions were modelled, prove, at least that I am 
an impartial judge. I consider the fragment of Hyperion, 
as second to nothing that was ever produced by a writer 
of the same years. 

John Keats, died at Rome of a consumption, in his 
twenty-fourth year, on the — of — 1821; and was buried 
in the romantic and lonely cemetery of the protestants in 
that city, under the pyramid which is the tomb of Cestius, 
and the massy walls and towers, now mouldering and 
desolate, which formed the circuit of ancient Rome. The 
cemetery is an open space among the ruins covered in 

winter with violets and daisies. It might make one in love 
with death, to think that one should be buried in so 
sweet a place. 

The genius of the lamented person to whose memory 
I have dedicated these unworthy verses, was not less deli- 
cate and fragile than it was beautiful ; and where canker- 
worms abound, what wonder, if it's young flower was 
blighted in the bud? Thesavage criticism on his Endymion, 
which appeared in the Quarterly Review, produced the 
most violent effect on his susceptible mind ; the agitation 
thus originated ended in the rupture of a blood-vessel 
in the lungs; a rapid consumption ensued, and the suc- 
ceeding acknowledgements from more candid critics, of 
the true greatness of his powers, were ineffectual to heal 
the wound thus wantonly inflicted. 

It may be well said, that these wretched men know 
not what they do. They scatter their insults and their 
slanders without heed as to whether the poisoned shaft 
lights on a heart made callous by many blows, or one, 
like Keats's composed of more penetrable stuff. One of 
their associates, is, to my knowledge, a most base and 
unprincipled calumniator. As to " Endymion " ; was it a 
poem, whatever might be it's defects, to be treated con- 
temptuously by those who had celebrated with various 
degrees of complacency and panegyric, " Paris, " and 
" Woman " , and a " Syrian Tale " , and Mrs. Lefanu, and 
Mr. Barrett, and Mr. Howard Payne, and a long list of 
the illustrious obscure ? Are these the men, who in their 
venal good nature, presumed to draw a parallel between 
the Rev. Mr. Milman and Lord Byron ? What gnat did 
they strain at here, after having swallowed all those 
camels? Against what woman taken in adultery, dares the 


foremost of these literary prostitutes to cast his oppro- 
brious stone ? Miserable man ! you, one of the meanest, 
have wantonly defaced one of the noblest specimens of the 
workmanship of God. Nor shall it be your excuse, that, 
murderer as you are, you have spoken daggers, but used 

The circumstances of the closing scene of poor Keats's 
life were not made known to me until the Elegy was ready 
for the press. I am given to understand that the wound 
which his sensitive spirit had received from the criticism 
of Endymion, was exasperated by the bitter sense of 
unrequited benefits ; the poor fellow seems to have been 
hooted from the stage of life, no less by those on whom 
he had wasted the promise of his genius, than those on 
whom he had lavished his fortune and his care. He was 
accompanied to Rome, and attended in his last illness by 
Mr. Severn, a young artist of the highest promise, who, 

I have been informed " almost risked his own life, and 
" sacrificed every prospect to unwearied attendance upon 

II his dying friend . " Had I known these circumstances 
before the completion of my poem, I should have been 
tempted to add my feeble tribute of applause to the more 
solid recompense which the virtuous man finds in the 
recollection of his own motives. Mr. Severn can dispense 
with a reward from " such stuff as dreams are made of. " 
His conduct is a golden augury of the success of his future 
career — may the unextinguished Spirit of his illustrious 
friend animate the creations of his pencil, and plead 
against Oblivion for his name ! 



X weep for Adonais — he is dead ! 

O, weep for Adonais ! though our tears 

Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head ! 

And thou, sad Hour, selected from all years 

To mourn our loss, rouse thy obscure compeers, 

And teach them thine own sorrow, say : with me 

Died Adonais ; till the Future dares 

Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be 

An echo and a light unto eternity ! 

Where wert thou mighty Mother, when he lay, 
When thy Son lay, pierced by the shaft which flies 
In darkness ? where was lorn Urania 
When Adonais died 4 ? With veiled eyes, 
'Mid listening Echoes, in her Paradise 
She sate, while one, with soft enamoured breath, 
Rekindled all the fading melodies, 
With which, like flowers that mock the corse beneath, 
He had adorned and hid the coming bulk of death. 


O, weep for Adonais — he is dead ! 

Wake, melancholy Mother, wake and weep ! 

Yet wherefore ? Quench within their burning bed 

Thy fiery tears, and let thy loud heart keep 

Like his, a mute and uncomplaining sleep; 

For he is gone, where all things wise and fair 

Descend; — oh, dream not that the amorous Deep 

Will yet restore him to the vital air ; 

Death feeds on his mute voice, and laughs at our despair. 

Most musical of mourners , weep again ! 
Lament anew, Urania ! — He died, 
Who was the Sire of an immortal strain, 
Blind, old, and lonely, when his country's pride, 
The priest, the slave, and the liberticide, 
Trampled and mocked with many a loathed rite 
Of lust and blood; he went, unterrified, 
Into the gulf of death ; but his clear Sprite 
Yet reigns o'er earth; the third among the sons of light. 

Most musical of mourners, weep anew ! 
Not all to that bright station dared to climb ; 
And happier they their happiness who knew, 
Whose tapers yet burn through that night of time 
In which suns perished; others more sublime, 
Struck by the envious wrath of man or God, 
Have sunk, extinct in their refulgent prime; 
And some yet live, treading the thorny road, 
Which leads, through toil and hate, to Fame's serene abode. 


But now, thy youngest, dearest one, has perished 
The nursling of thy widowhood, who grew, 
Like a pale flower by some sad maiden cherished, 
And fed with true love tears, instead of dew; 
Most musical of mourners, weep anew ! 
Thy extreme hope, the loveliest and the last, 
The bloom, whose petals nipt before they blew 
Died on the promise of the fruit, is waste ; 
The broken lily lies — the storm is overpast. 


To that high Capital, where kingly Death 

Keeps his pale court in beauty and decay, 

He came ; and bought, with price of purest breath, 

A grave among the eternal. — Come away ! 

Haste, while the vault of blue Italian day 

Is yet his fitting charnel-roof ! while still 

He lies, as if in dewy sleep he lay ; 

Awake him not ! surely he takes his fill 

Of deep and liquid rest, forgetful of all ill . 

He will awake no more, oh, never more ! — 
Within the twilight chamber spreads apace, 
The shadow of white Death, and at the door 
Invisible Corruption waits to trace 
His extreme way to her dim dwelling-place ; 
The eternal Hunger sits, but pity and awe 
Soothe her pale rage, nor dares she to deface 
So fair a prey, till darkness, and the law 
Of mortal change, shall fill the grave which is her maw. 



O, weep for Adonais ! — The quick Dreams, 

The passion-winged Ministers of thought, 

Who were his flocks, whom near the living streams 

Of his young spirit he fed, and whom he taught 

The love which was its music, wander not,— 

Wander no more, from kindling brain to brain, 

But droop there, whence they sprung ; and mourn their lot 

Round the cold heart, where, after their sweet pain, 

They ne'er will gather strength, or find a home again. 

And one with trembling hands clasps his cold head, 
And fans him with her moonlight wings, and cries; 
" Our love, our hope, our sorrow, is not dead ; 
" See, on the silken fringe of his faint eyes, 
" Like dew upon a sleeping flower, there lies 
" A tear some Dream has loosened from his brain." 
Lost Angel of a ruined Paradise ! 
She knew not 'twas her own ; as with no stain 
She faded, like a cloud which had outwept its rain. 

One from a lucid urn of starry dew 
Washed his light limbs as if embalming them ; 
Another dipt her profuse locks, and threw 
The wreath upon him, like an anadem, 
Which frozen tears instead of pearls begem ; 
Another in her wilful grief would break 
Her bow and winged reeds, as if to stem 
A greater loss with one which was more weak ; 
And dull the barbed fire against his frozen cheek. 

1 1 

Another Splendour on his mouth alit, 
That mouth, whence it was wont to draw the breath 
Which gave it strength to pierce the guarded wit, 
And pass into the panting heart beneath 
With lightning and with music : the damp death 
Quenched its caress upon his icy lips ; 
And, as a dying meteor stains a wreath 
Of moonlight vapour, which the cold night clips, 
It flushed through his pale limbs, and past to its eclipse. 

And others came . . . Desires and Adorations, 
Winged Persuasions and veiled Destinies, 
Splendours, and Glooms, and glimmering Incarnations 
Of hopes and fears, and twilight Phantasies; 
And Sorrow, with her family of Sighs , 
And Pleasure, blind with tears, led by the gleam 
Of her own dying smile instead of eyes, 
Came in slow pomp ; — the moving pomp might seem 
Like pageantry of mist on an autumnal stream. 

All he had loved, and moulded into thought, 
From shape, and hue, and odour, and sweet sound, 
Lamented Adonais. Morning sought 
Her eastern watchtower, and her hair unbound, 
Wet with the tears which should adorn the ground, 
Dimmed the aerial eyes that kindle day ; 
Afar the melancholy thunder moaned, 
Pale Ocean in unquiet slumber lay, 
And the wild winds flew round, sobbing in their dismay 

I 2 

Lost Echo sits amid the voiceless mountains, 
And feeds her grief with his remembered lay, 
And will no more reply to winds or fountains, 
Or amorous birds perched on the young green spray, 
Or herdsman's horn, or bell at closing day; 
Since she can mimic not his lips, more dear 
Than those for whose disdain she pined away 
Into a shadow of all sounds : — a drear 
Murmur, between their songs, is all the woodmen hear. 


Grief made the young Spring wild, and she threw down 

Her kindling buds, as if she Autumn were, 

Or they dead leaves ; since her delight is flown 

For whom should she have waked the sullen year ? 

To Phoebus was not Hyacinth so dear 

Nor to himself Narcissus, as to both 

Thou Adonais : wan they stand and sere 

Amid the drooping comrades of their youth, 

With dew all turned to tears; odour, to sighing ruth. 

Thy spirit's sister, the lorn nightingale 
Mourns not her mate with such melodious pain ; 
Not so the eagle, who like thee could scale 
Heaven, and could nourish in the sun's domain 
Her mighty youth with morning, doth complain, 
Soaring and screaming round her empty nest, 
As Albion wails for thee : the curse of Cain 
Light on his head who pierced thy innocent breast, 
And scared the angel soul that was its earthly guest ! 


Ah woe is me ! Winter is come and gone, 
But grief returns with the revolving year ; 
The airs and streams renew their joyous tone; 
The ants, the bees, the swallows reappear; 
Fresh leaves and flowers deck the dead Seasons' bier ; 
The amorous birds now pair in every brake, 
And build their mossy homes in field and brere; 
And the green lizard, and the golden snake, 
Like unimprisoned flames, out of their trance awake. 

Through wood and stream and field and hill and Ocean 
A quickening life from the Earth's heart has burst 
As it has ever done, with change and motion, 
From the great morning of the world when first 
God dawned on Chaos ; in its steam immersed 
The lamps of Heaven flash with a softer light ; 
All baser things pant with life's sacred thirst ; 
Diffuse themselves ; and spend in love's delight, 
The beauty and the joy of their renewed might. 

The leprous corpse touched by this spirit tender 
Exhales itself in flowers of gentle breath ; 
Like incarnations of the stars, when splendour 
Is changed to fragrance, they illumine death 
And mock the merry worm that wakes beneath ; 
Nought we know, dies . Shall that alone which knows 
Be as a sword consumed before the sheath 
By sightless lightning ? — th' intense atom glows 
A moment, then is quenched in a most cold repose. 


Alas ! that all we loved of him should be, 
But for our grief, as if it had not been, 
And grief itself be mortal ! Woe is me ! 
Whence are we, and why are we ? of what scene 
The actors or spectators ? Great and mean 
Meet massed in death, who lends what life must borrow. 
As long as skies are blue, and fields are green, 
Evening must usher night, night urge the morrow, 
Month follow month with woe, and year wake year to sorrow. 

He will awake no more, oh, never more ! 
" Wake thou," cried Misery, " childless Mother, rise 
" Out of thy sleep, and slake, in thy heart's core, 
" A wound more fierce than his with tears and sighs." 
And all the Dreams that watched Urania's eyes, 
And all the Echoes whom their sister's song 
Had held in holy silence, cried : " Arise ! " 
Swift as a Thought by the snake Memory stung, 
From her ambrosial rest the fading Splendour sprung. 

She rose like an autumnal Night, that springs 
Out of the East, and follows wild and drear 
The golden Day, which, on eternal wings, 
Even as a ghost abandoning a bier, 
Had left the earth a corpse. Sorrow and fear 
So struck, so roused, so rapt Urania; 
So saddened round her like an atmosphere 
Of stormy mist ; so swept her on her way 
Even to the mournful place where Adonais lay. 


Out of her secret Paradise she sped, 
Through camps and cities rough with stone, and steel, 
And human hearts, which to her aery tread 
Yielding not, wounded the invisible 
Palms of her tender feet where'er they fell : 
And barbed tongues, and thoughts more sharp than they 
Rent the soft Form they never could repel, 
Whose sacred blood, like the young tears of May, 
Paved with eternal flowers that undeserving way. 

In the death chamber for a moment Death 
Shamed by the presence of that living Might 
Blushed to annihilation, and the breath 
Revisited those lips, and life *s pale light 
Flashed through those limbs, so late her dear delight. 
" Leave me not wild and drear and comfortless, 
" As silent lightning leaves the starless night ! 
" Leave me not ! " cried Urania : her distress 
Roused Death: Death rose and smiled, and met her vain caress 

" Stay yet awhile ! speak to me once again ; 
" Kiss me, so long but as a kiss may live ; 
" And in my heartless breast and burning brain 
" That word, that kiss shall all thoughts else survive, 
" With food of saddest memory kept alive, 
" Now thou art dead, as if it were a part 
" Of thee, my Adonais ! I would give 
" All that I am to be as thou now art ! 
u But I am chained to Time, and cannot thence depart ! 


' O gentle child, beautiful as thou wert, 
4 Why didst thou leave the trodden paths of men 
' Too soon, and with weak hands though mighty heart 
' Dare the unpastured dragon in his den ? 
1 Defenceless as thou wert, oh where was then 
' Wisdom the mirrored shield, or scorn the spear? 
' Or hadst thou waited the full cycle, when 
' Thy spirit should have filled its crescent sphere, 
4 The monsters of life's waste had fled from thee like deer. 

1 The herded wolves, bold only to pursue ; 

• The obscene ravens , clamorous oer the dead ; 
' The vultures to the conqueror's banner true 

4 Who feed where Desolation first has fed, 

' And whose wings rain contagion; — how they fled, 

1 When like Apollo, from his golden bow, 

4 The Pythian of the age one arrow sped 

' And smiled ! — The spoilers tempt no second blow, 

' They fawn on the proud feet that spurn them as they go. 

' The sun comes forth, and many reptiles spawn ; 

• He sets, and each ephemeral insect then 

• Is gathered into death without a dawn, 

• And the immortal stars awake again ; 

• So is it in the world of living men : 

1 A godlike mind soars forth, in its delight 
' Making earth bare and veiling heaven, and when 
4 It sinks, the swarms that dimmed or shared its light 
' Leave to its kindred lamps the spirit's awful night." ■ 



Thus ceased she : and the mountain shepherds came 

Their garlands sere, their magic mantles rent ; 

The Pilgrim of Eternity, whose fame 

Over his living head like Heaven is bent, 

An early but enduring monument, 

Came, veiling all the lightnings of his song 

In sorrow ; from her wilds Ierne sent 

The sweetest lyrist of her saddest wrong, 

And love taught grief to fall like music from his tongue . 

Midst others of less note, came one frail Form, 
A phantom among men ; companionless 
As the last cloud of an expiring storm 
Whose thunder is its knell ; he, as I guess, 
Had gazed on Nature's naked loveliness, 
Actaeon-like, and now he fled astray 
With feeble steps o'er the world's wilderness, 
And his own thoughts, along that rugged way, 
Pursued, like raging hounds, their father and their prey. 

A pardlike Spirit beautiful and swift — 
A Love in desolation masked ; — a Power 
Girt round with weakness ; — it can scarce uplift 
The weight of the superincumbent hour ; 
It is a dying lamp, a falling shower, 
A breaking billow ; — even whilst we speak 
Is it not broken ? On the withering flower 
The killing sun smiles brightly: on a cheek 
The life can burn in blood, even while the heart may break. 



His head was bound with pansies overblown, 
And faded violets, white, and pied, and blue; 
And a light spear topped with a cypress cone, 
Round whose rude shaft dark ivy tresses grew 
Yet dripping with the forest's noonday dew, 
Vibrated, as the ever-beating heart 
Shook the weak hand that grasped it ; of that crew 
He came the last, neglected and apart ; 
A herd- abandoned deer struck by the hunter's dart. 

All stood aloof, and at his partial moan 
Smiled through their tears ; well knew that gentle band 
Who in another's fate now wept his own ; 
As in the accents of an unknown land, 
He sung new sorrow ; sad Urania scanned 
The Stranger's mien, and murmured : " who art thou ? " 
He answered not, but with a sudden hand 
Made bare his branded and ensanguined brow, 
Which was like Cain's or Christ's— Oh! that it should be so! 

What softer voice is hushed over the dead ? 
Athwart what brow is that dark mantle thrown ? 
What form leans sadly o'er the white death-bed, 
In mockery of monumental stone, 
The heavy heart heaving without a moan ? 
If it be He, who, gentlest of the wise, 
Taught, soothed, loved, honoured the departed one ; 
Let me not vex, with inharmonious sighs 
The silence of that heart's accepted sacrifice. 


Our Adonais has drunk poison — oh ! 
What deaf and, viperous murderer could crown 
Life's early cup with such a draught of woe ? 
The nameless worm would now itself disown : 
It felt, yet could escape the magic tone 
Whose prelude held all envy, hate, and wrong, 
But what was howling in one breast alone, 
Silent with expectation of the song, 
Whose master's hand is cold, whose silver lyre unstrung. 

Live thou, whose infamy is not thy fame ! 
Live ! fear no heavier chastisement from me, 
Thou noteless blot, on a remembered name ! 
But be thyself, and know thyself to be ! 
And ever at thy season be thou free 
To spill the venom when thy fangs o'er flow : 
Remorse and Self-contempt shall cling to thee ; 
Hot Shame shall burn upon thy secret brow, 
And like a beaten hound tremble thoushalt — as now. 

Nor let us weep that our delight is fled 
Far from these carrion kites that scream below ; 
He wakes or sleeps with the enduring dead ; 
Thou canst not soar where he is sitting now. — 
Dust to the dust ! but the pure spirit shall flow 
Back to the burning fountain whence it came, 
A portion of the Eternal, which must glow 
Through time and change, unquenchably the same, 
Whilst thy cold embers choke the sordid hearth of shame. 



Peace, peace ! he is not dead, he doth not sleep 

He hath awakened from the dream of life — 
'Tis we, who lost in stormy visions, keep 
With phantoms an unprofitable strife, 
And in mad trance, strike with our spirit's knife 
Invulnerable nothings. — We decay- 
Like corpses in a charnel ; fear and grief 
Convulse us and consume us day by day, 
And cold hopes swarm like worms within our living clay. 

He has outsoared the shadow of our night ; 
Envy and calumny and hate and pain, 
And that unrest which men miscall delight, 
Can touch him not and torture not again ; 
From the contagion of the world's slow stain 
He is secure, and now can never mourn 
A heart grown cold, a head grown grey in vain ; 
Nor, when the spirit's self has ceased to burn, 
With sparkless ashes load an unlamented urn. 

He lives, he wakes — tis Death is dead, not he; 
Mourn not for Adonais. — Thou young Dawn 
Turn all thy dew to splendour, for from thee 
The spirit thou lamentest is not gone ; 
Ye caverns and ye forests, cease to moan ! 
Cease ye faint flowers and fountains, and thou Air 
Which like a mourning veil thy scarf hadst thrown 
O'er the abandoned Earth, now leave it bare 
Even to the joyous stars which smile on it's despair I 

2 I 

He is made one with Nature : there is heard 
His voice in all her music, from the moan 
Of thunder, to the song of night's sweet bird ; 
He is a presence to be felt and known 
In darkness and in light, from herb and stone, 
Spreading itself where'er that Power may move 
Which has withdrawn his being to its own ; 
Which wields the world with never wearied love, 
Sustains it from beneath, and kindles it above. 

He is a portion of the loveliness 
Which once he made more lovely : he doth bear 
His part, while the one Spirit's plastic stress 
Sweeps through the dull dense world, compelling there, 
All new successions to the forms they wear ; 
Torturing th'unwilling dross that checks it's flight 
To it's own likeness, as each mass may bear ; 
And bursting in it's beauty and it's might 
From trees and beasts and men into the Heaven's light. 

The splendours of the firmament of time 
May be eclipsed, but are extinguished not ; 
Like stars to their appointed height they climb 
And death is a low mist which cannot blot 
The brightness it may veil. When lofty thought 
Lifts a young heart above its mortal lair, 
And love and life contend in it, for what 
Shall be its earthly doom, the dead live there 
And move like winds of light on dark and stormy air. 


The inheritors of unfulfilled renown 
Rose from thier thrones, built beyond mortal thought, 
Far in the Unapparent. Chatterton 
Rose pale, his solemn agony had not 
Yet faded from him ; Sidney, as he fought 
And as he fell and as he lived and loved 
Sublimely mild, a Spirit without spot, 
Arose ; and Lucan, by his death approved : 
Oblivion as they rose shrank like a thing reproved. 

And many more, whose names on Earth are dark 
But whose transmitted effluence cannot die 
So long as fire outlives the parent spark, 
Rose, robed in dazzling immortality. 
" Thou art become as one of us ", they cry, 
" It was for thee yon kingless sphere has long 
" Swung blind in unascended majesty, 
" Silent alone amid an Heaven of song. 
" Assume thy winged throne, thou Vesper of our throng ! " 

Who mourns for Adonais ? oh come forth 
Fond wretch ! and know thyself and him aright. 
Clasp with thy panting soul the pendulous earth ; 
As from a centre, dart thy spirit's light 
Beyond all worlds, until its spacious might 
Satiate the void circumference : then shrink 
Even to a point within our day and night ; 
And keep thy heart light lest it make thee sink 
When hope has kindled hope, and lured thee to the brink. 


Or go to Rome, which is the sepulchre 
O, not of him, but of our joy: 'tis nought 
That ages, empires, and religions there 
Lie buried in the ravage they have wrought ; 
For such as he can lend, — they borrow not 
Glory from those who made the world their prey ; 
And he is gathered to the kings of thought 
Who waged contention with their time's decay, 
And of the past are all that cannot pass away. 

Go thou to Rome, — at once the Paradise, 
The grave, the city, and the wilderness ; 
And where its wrecks like shattered mountains rise, 
And flowering weeds, and fragrant copses dress 
The bones of Desolation's nakedness 
Pass, till the Spirit of the spot shall lead 
Thy footsteps to a slope of green access 
Where, like an infant's smile, over the dead, 
A light of laughing flowers along the grass is spread. 

And gray walls moulder round, on which dull Time 
Feeds, like slow fire upon a hoary brand; 
And one keen pyramid with wedge sublime, 
Pavilioning the dust of him who planned 
This refuge for his memory, doth stand 
Like flame transformed to marble ; and beneath, 
A field is spread, on which a newer band 
Have pitched in Heaven's smile their camp of death 
Welcoming him we lose with scarce extinguished breath, 

2 4 

Here pause : these graves are all too young as yet 
To have out grown the sorrow which consigned 
Its charge to each ; and if the seal is set, 
Here, on one fountain of a mourning mind, 
Break it not thou ! too surely shalt thou find 
Thine own well full, if thou returnest home, 
Of tears and gall. From the world's bitter wind 
Seek shelter in the shadow of the tomb. 
What Adonais is, why fear we to become ? 

The One remains, the many change and pass ; 
Heaven's light forever shines, Earth's shadows fly ; 
Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, 
Stains the white radiance of Eternity, 
Until Death tramples it to fragments. — Die, 
If thou wouldst be with that which thou dost seek 1 
Follow where all is fled I — Rome's azure sky, 
Flowers, ruins, statues, music, words, are weak 
The glory they transfuse with fitting truth to speak. 

Why linger, why turn back, why shrink, my Heart? 
Thy hopes are gone before : from all things here 
They have departed ; thou shouldst now depart I 
A light is past from the revolving year, 
And man, and woman; and what still is dear 
Attracts to crush, repels to make thee wither. 
The soft sky smiles, — the low wind whispers near : 
'Tis Adonais calls ! oh, hasten thither, 
No more let Life divide what Death can join together. 

2 5 

That Light whose smile kindles the Universe, 
That Beauty in which all things work and move, 
That Benediction which the eclipsing Curse 
Of birth can quench not, that sustaining Love 
Which through the web of being blindly wove 
By man and beast and earth and air and sea, 
Burns bright or dim, as each are mirrors of 
The fire for which all thirst; now beams on me, 
Consuming the last clouds of cold mortality. 

The breath whose might I have invoked in song 
Descends on me; my spirit's bark is driven, 
Far from the shore, far from the trembling throng 
Whose sails were never to the tempest given ; 
The massy earth and sphered skies are riven ! 
I am borne darkly, fearfully, afar ; 
Whilst burning through the inmost veil of Heaven, 
The soul of Adonais, like a star, 
Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are. 


Richard Clay & Sons, 

bread street hill, london. 

fiitn gay. Suffolk.